Over the years, I have bought many pieces of equipment for bread baking. This post is about my latest acquisition, the Lodge 3.2 Quart Cast Iron Combo Cooker. I learned about it when I was looking at a recipe on the Anson Mills site and saw that their recipe for a whole wheat bread using Red Fife flour (a heritage wheat flour that I had recently bought from them) was based on baking in Lodge combo cookers.
About 15 years ago, the New York Times printed a recipe from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, which was very innovative and popular. Part of the recipe was baking the bread in a heavy pot, first with the lid on (creating a moist environment) and then with the lid off (creating a dry environment). This combination of moist and then dry environments is the secret for a crusty loaf of bread. This approach is very effective, and I have baked many loaves this way, but it is a bit awkward getting the risen dough into the center of hot pot without burning ones fingers.
The combo cooker reduces this risk because the base is shallow and the lid is large, the opposite of the Dutch oven. Thus it is much easier to get the dough in the cooker. The result, as shown by the photos, was excellent.
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Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker: Been using mine for decades [have even retired my much loved full sized Lodge skillet in favor of this], the shallow rounded sided skillet provides my morning omelette and a forearm workout daily and a lighter pot lid of skillet diameter or greater can cover to provide a cheese melting environment if desired. The less used cast pot/top allows soup, stew, or steam baking as desired [sourdough bread or biscuits my favorites].